The role of caregivers in fostering cooperation

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As it appears from the Report, there are approximately 10 persons per a schizophrenic patient, all of them from the close patient's circle, who are directly affected by consequences of the disease.
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As it appears from the Report, there are approximately 10 persons per a schizophrenic patient, all of them from the close patient's circle, who are directly affected by consequences of the disease. Only 19% of schizophrenia patients live independently of their relatives, while 81% live with their caregivers. In the majority of cases (78%), women dedicate their time to care of an ill family member, with 34 hours a week. It is still more difficult as 68% of caregivers combine these tasks with their occupational activity.

The caregiver's support is very complex, from help in daily works and preparing meals up to medication control. Financial burden is another problem. In Poland, 35% of schizophrenic patients have never been employed, 61% receive pension and only 15% continue gainful employment. In the light of these figures, it is not surprising that 72% of caregivers cover at least some expenses of patients, and the average monthly support is 569 PLN.

It is worth knowing that...

As many as 81% of schizophrenic patients live with their caregivers. In the majority of cases (78%), women dedicate their time to care of an ill family member, with 34 hours a week.

The hospital-based model of treatment and the lack of a developed system of environmental care make it necessary for the patient's family to bear the main burden of care. As it appears from the Report, 88% of the relatives are responsible for control of the patient compliance with doctor's recommendations.

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The hospital-based model of treatment and the lack of a developed system of environmental care make it necessary for the patient's family to bear the main burden of care. As it appears from the Report, 88% of the relatives are responsible for control of the patient compliance with doctor's recommendations.

Regular medication is the most significant form of schizophrenia therapy because proper, medicine-controlled functionality of neurotransmitters in the brain determines the functioning of men. Only the patient, who is compliant with prescribed medication regimen, may participate in other forms of therapy: psychotherapy, psychoeducation, rehabilitation training.

Proper pharmacotherapy enables stabilisation of health and prevents from psychosis relapses. Caregivers are aware of the fact that even short breaks in medication, may end up with psychosis recurrence and, therefore, make so much account of proper therapy control. It has, however, negative effects: the ill person feels controlled, sometimes forced to take drugs and begins to perceived his/her relatives as police. Drug intake becomes the main topic and, in the patient's perception, the only topic, where a caring question, like "Have you taken the medicines today?", may trigger an outburst of aggression and rejection of further therapy.

It is worth knowing that...

In Poland, 35% of schizophrenic patients have never been employed, 61% receive pension and only 15% continue gainful employment.

The caregiver's burden is a very complex problem and, throughout a longer time, brings about the syndrome of burnout and health problems. Out of questioned caregivers, 12-18% were at the borderline of depression and every 4th questioned caregiver needed help of a professional. It should then be stated that the caregiver of a schizophrenic patient becomes "silent patient, manifesting the first symptoms of depression.

It is worth knowing that...

As many as 88% of the relatives are responsible for control of the patient compliance with doctor's recommendations.

One patient diagnosed with schizophrenia is supported by about 10 persons close to them.

Is there any solution of these problems?

The Report draws attention to the role of long-acting antipsychotic (LAI) medicines. In Poland, medicine formulations are available which are administered in injections every 2-4 weeks. Thanks to maintained stable concentration of medicinal substance in blood, the treatment regimen is more effective, while the patient may be released from the daily tablet intake routine. It reduces the caregiver's stress associated with medication control and the risk of symptom relapse. The patient's stable condition means a higher chance for the caregiver to take care of his/her own plans.

It is worth knowing that...

Out of questioned caregivers, 12-18% were at the borderline of depression and every 4th questioned caregiver needed help of a professional.

  • References

    *Schizophrenia A guide. Lundbeck A/S.

    The Report "Schizofrenia. Rola opiekunów w kreowaniu współpracy" has been edited by the Institute of Patient Laws and Health Education and is a part of the educational campaign, carried out by the Institute, with regards to schizophrenia. The Report is available HERE.

    # BSM. (2015) Care of relatives with diagnosed schizophrenia. A report from quantitative study. Janssen

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